Selection and Use of Software

What you need to know about choosing appropriate software...

Operating Systems

The main purpose of the operating system is to allow the applications software (browsers, word processors, etc.) to interact with the computer hardware. It gets the computer hardware to behave in a certain way so that the applications software is able to use it to do certain tasks. Some examples of these tasks are:

  • Diagnostic checks-performs some diagnostic checks when the computer is started up

  • It controls the receipt of input from the input devices

  • It controls output, sends information to the screen or other output devices (speakers, etc.)

Examples of Operating Systems

Applications software

Applications software is software that allows the computer to be applied to a particular problem. It is software which is used for a particular purpose or application such as:

  • Order processing
  • Payroll
  • Stock control
  • Games
  • Creating websites
  • Image editing
  • Word processing

Systems software

Systems software is any computer software that manages and controls the hardware and therefore allowing the applications software to do a useful job. Systems software consists of the following programs:

  • Operating system
  • GUI (graphical user interface)
  • File management
  • Utilities

Software mind map

This mind map covers all of the previous information as well as some information which is covered later in this flyer. It shows how "software" is broken down into many different things.



Different types of interface

There are a few different types of Interface all with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Command line/driven interfaces

Graphical user interfaces

Menu-driven interfaces

Form-driven interfaces

Natural language interfaces

The link below will take you to another flyer with all the information about these different interfaces.



A utility is a program that performs a very specific task and a series of utilities comes as part of the systems software. Utilities are not regarded as applications due to them being fairly simple and will only perform one very specific task. Examples of utilities include: file converters, virus scanners plus security and accounting. There is a separate flyer going into more detail on this topic, the link for this is below.


Applications software

Applications software can be broken down into:

  • Package software
  • Generic software
  • Integrated software
  • Specific software
  • Bespoke software

For more detail on this topic, visit my mind map using the link below.


Word processing, spreadsheets, database and presentation software

To be able to make the right choice of software you will need to have good knowledge of that software. I have included the link below to another flyer which has information about word processing packages and spreadsheet packages.


Web browsers

Web browser software is the software that you use to access the Internet. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are all examples of web browsers. Using web browsing software you can:

  • Search the internet
  • Add favourites or Bookmarks (easy access to a website you want to return too)
  • Use e-mail facilities (send, reply, forward, search e-mails and have an address book of all the people you are likely to send e-mails too)
  • Instant messaging

Website design software

In order to develop a website, website development software is needed. This does not have to be specialist software as there are many cheaper packages which do roughly the same thing. Some software which could be used to develop websites are; word-processing software and desktop publishing software. Specialist design software is obviously more effective and results in a more professional look but for simple websites any software can be used.

Some simple features of website design software are; the ability to add and format text, the ability to add hyperlinks, the ability to preview the website in different browsers for testing purposes and the ability to import data from other packages.

Some advanced features of website design software are; the ability to create a webpage using frames, the ability to look at the HTML code and make changes to this.